Food in Unrecognized Countries
By: The PH Team
Over the past few years, food tourism has been booming across the world. Instagram has created a generation of travellers who first and foremost take pictures of their food before they start eating.
As such, countries around the world have been able to showcase their local delicacies to the world through social media.
But what about unrecognized countries? With a lack of tourism, places that don't exist on the map have largely been absent from this phenomenon and their cuisines remain largely unknown to the outside world.
This article will discuss the food and cuisines of various unrecognized countries.
Abkhazia is an unrecognized country, internationally recognized as part of Georgia. Once part of the Soviet Union, the country's cuisine displays influences of Russian / Soviet cuisine and Georgian cuisine, in addition to its own.
Without knowing it, some items of Abkhaz cuisine did in fact make it to wider Soviet cuisine and are still eaten throughout the region and in former Soviet states today.
Adjika for example, is a sauce made from hot local peppers with origins in Abkhazia. Despite its Abkhaz origins, the sauce has made it to cuisines throughout the Caucasus Region, as well as to many other ex-Soviet states.
Another example of a staple in Abkhaz cuisine is Abysta. Abysta is made of maize flour, goat cheese and spicy Abkhazian adjika. Smoked game meat and sour milk are often added to the dish.
The process of making Abysta is still largely done in traditional ways. It is cooked in a large pot over an open flame and serves many - traditionally known as a 'shepherds lunch.'
If you look closely, you can see all the ingredients present as mentioned above.
Nagorno-Karabakh, officially the Republic of Artsakh, is an unrecognized country internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
The country is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Armenians and therefore takes most of its cuisine from traditional Armenian cuisine.
However, the unrecognzied country does have some specialties that even in Armenia are not considered as high quality as found in Stepanakert - the capital of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).
'Jingyalov hats' are something that travellers cannot miss and is widely considered a delicacy of Artsakh. Even travellers from neighbouring Armenia know that Artsakh is the place to eat the best 'jingyalov hats.'
'Jingyalov hats' are essentially dough, stuffed with various local herbs and cooked to perfection. The snack can easily be purchased throughout the Republic of Artsakh and especially in the food market in Stepanakert, the country's capital.
'Horats Panir', is a traditional type of buried Armenian cheese that you won’t be able to taste anywhere else in the world. It is made from cow's milk and matured in special clay pots and buried in the mountains for approximately 6 months.
'Khorovats' or 'shashlik' as known in other ex-Soviet states, is a common meal in both Armenia and Artsakh. In addition, the skewered meat is popular across most states of the former Soviet Union.
Somaliland is an unrecognized country, internationally recognized as part of Somalia. Although the majority of its inhabitants are ethnic Somalis and the country is recognized as part of Somalia, the two couldn't be more different.
Since Somaliland's de facto independence from Somalia in 1991, the country has made huge accomplishments. It has be able to secure its country from both domestic and external threats - something that recognized Somalia has been unable to achieve thus far.
In addition, although unrecognized, Somaliland is considered to be the only democracy in the Horn of Africa!
With the above said, because of the ethnic Somali majority, Somaliland is a unique opportunity to taste authentic Somali food in a more secure destination.
The food of Somaliland is made up of rice, meat, fish and lahooh - a traditional Somali bread similar to Ethiopian 'injera.'
Since camels are so abundant in the region, with half of the world population living in Somalia and Somaliland, camel meat and milk are both staples in the diet of Somalilanders.
'Lahooh' (laxoox) is a spongy, pancake-like bread originating from Yemen, Somalia, Somaliland and Djibouti.
Restaurants across Somaliland offer traditional Somali food to locals and tourists alike. The traditional way of eating in both Somaliland and Somalia is without the use of utensils and only by using your hands - even when eating rice.
However, restaurants in Somaliland are often understanding of the needs of tourists and their preference to use utensils. Many restaurants throughout the unrecognized country will have spoons and knives on hand just waiting for you to come and visit!
'Bariis iskukaris' is the common name Somalis give to rice cooked with spices and the addition of meat - often chicken or camel.
South Ossetia is an unrecognized country internationally recognized as part of Georgia. Ossetian cuisine as a whole, has influences from various cultures and regional powers.
Firstly, Ossetians are descendants of the 'Alan' people. The Alans were an ethnic Iranian group which move to the region of the Caucasus mountains in the 3rd century AD.
In addition, they have lived closely with other North Caucasus peoples, Georgians, as well as Russians. Today's unrecognized country of South Ossetia was part of the Soviet Union and later independent Georgia.
As such, their food can be seen as resembling other regional cuisines, in addition to their own national Ossetian heritage.
'Khabizgina' is a potato and cheese stuffed bread and similar to the Georgian 'khachapuri.'
It is a common dish in South Ossetia and surely something all travellers to the unrecognized country will come across.
In addition to baked goods and cheeses, South Ossetian staples include eggs, eggplant peppers, potatoes and other local herbs and produce.
Transnistria is an unrecognized country internationally recognized as part of neighbouring Moldova. Like its population, which is made up of ethnic Romanians (Moldovans), Ukrainians and Russians, the cuisine of Transnistria is also primarily influenced by these three ethnic groups and their cuisines.
The unrecognized country is often referred to as 'stuck in a Soviet time-warp' and its food is no different. The food in Transnistria may be best described as 'Soviet cuisine.'
Zeleny Market is the biggest and best farmer's market in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria. A place that is surely on every traveller's list when visiting this unrecognized country. It is a great place to see and purchase local food and ingredients.
The cuisine of Transnistria largely resembles the cuisine of the Soviet Union and today's former Soviet states surrounding the territory of Transnistria.
'Borscht' (pronounced without the 'T') is a Ukrainian soup (sometimes disputed) made primarily of beets, onions, carrots and meat. It is a common food eaten in Transnistria and you simply cannot go to either Transnistria or neighbouring Ukraine without having a bowl of borscht!